Review by Xenthia

"An RPG with an Excellent Story, Art Design, Gameplay, and Fan Service"

Sometimes sequels are made as a fast cash-in, other times they are made due to a game and story line that is so huge it won't fit into a single game. Sometimes, it's because of fan service. Persona 2: Eternal Punishment is all about fan service, about doing it right, and creating something so good it really stands up as more than just a mere "Quickie Sequel" made to sate the clamoring needs of fans who desire another game fix. Persona 2: Eternal Punishment was created as a result of the Japanese fans loving Persona 2: Innocent Sin so much, that they pushed for more, and got it. P: 2 EP is a continuation of not only the characters and storyline of the Japanese only P: IS, but also contains bits and pieces from the very first Persona game, which was released stateside. We have returning characters from Persona in Mary, Nate and Ellen, and many more from P: IS. P: 2 EP's style, art, and graphics are very consistent with the two previous games in the series, and bring enough new things to work successfully as the final chapter to the first three games in the series.

Easy to use and understand in-game menus. The over-world map is very simple to navigate, and gives zero hassle as far as traveling is concerned. The dungeons are easy to navigate and allow the use of an in-game map.

Game Play-
Very simple to use once understood , yet may be confusing to those who are used to games in which leveling up characters, getting new gear, and learning new spells and skills through a class system is the main game mechanic . Unlike most RPG's, P: 2 EP involves not only leveling up the characters, but also leveling up Personae who act as a spirit that rises from above the in-game characters and do the actual spell casting. Personae are gained from the Velvet Room from Igor in exchange for a certain number of Tarot cards, and sometimes with the inclusion of Material cards for rarer and often times more powerful Personae. Tarot cards are gained through interacting and making contracts with enemies. Sometimes a persona can mutate into completely different persona when a spell fusion is used at the end of a battle. Personae determine the elemental protection, strength to spell and physical attacks, added evasion from enemy attacks, and even of how much spirit points are needed to use spells. A persona is put onto a character that is compatible with persona's tarot class, and can be taken off much like a piece of armor and put onto another compatible character. The personae act in many ways like the other half of a character. They can greatly decide how strong or weak a player can be in battle, and pose an interesting bit of strategy as in how one chooses them. Depending on the kind of spells and order that they are used in, spell fusions can occur. Spell fusions can involve 2- 5 spells performed together, and can cause increased overall damage to one enemy, all of a particular enemy or even to all of the enemies. There are even fusions that can give buffs to the characters or do other effects. Besides all of the madness involved with the personae, characters can also use weapons for attacking, and bead items that act as one hit spells.

The actual battles are straight forward affairs, and are often finished in a matter of seconds. Boss fights on the other hand, can be downright epic, and may require some planning and strategy.

The element of contacting monsters for items, money, contracts, and later on in the game rumors, adds an interesting element to the game. The way contacting is done is quite humorous, with Maya interviewing slime, Ellen modeling in front of demons, and even of a possible group contacts in which three characters tell a ghost story to a monster?!

There is a really cool rumor system to play around with, in which players can get rumors from rumor mongers that hang out in shops, bars, sushi bars, and even from monsters. The rumors are then spread by talking to people on the streets resulting in things like what shops sell what, adding spells to monsters and personae, and much more.

Art, Style and Cinematic Scenes-
The look and feel of the characters, personae, and monsters can be quite unique. The main characters each have a style all their own, with Maya being the most obvious with an almost fetish like outfit complete with two hearts upon her chest. The monsters and personae are pooled from many different mythologies and fictional worlds. You can have anything from the Norse god Odin, the Christian devil Satan, H.P. Lovecraft's Hastur, the Indian god Kali, and Lewis Carroll's Alice as your personae, while facing off against monsters like minotaurs, pixies, zombies, angels, and much more. Talking in-game is done by anime stills that come up with the text box and show the current speaking character . The tarot cards collected within the game are downright gorgeous to look at. The cinematic scenes come in barely-animated yet nice looking anime segments or in primitive FMVs scenes.

Story and Setting-
The setting is in present day Japan, with much of the details left intact from the original Japanese version, unlike the butchered Persona that was given an awful localization and many changes. The story is mature and shows good character development, and keeps the player involved. The middle of the game is a little lean, but picks up towards the end . The overall tone is serious, yet has moments of humor and even tender moments between characters.

Sound and Music-
The sound effects during the battles are nothing special The music for the most part is a decent mix of techno, piano pieces and a few interesting dramatic pieces thrown in for good measure. While playing the game there is a record shop that updates with some of the music tracks from the game, which can be bought, and then played at Maya's place.

This is where being a Playstation game really shows the marks of age. The in-game shops and buildings are nicely detailed, while some dungeons can come off looking a little bit bland. The character sprites and monsters are nice and large, yet show an extremely low level of resolution, but get the job done.

This game is a lot of fun to learn and master. The game can clock in anywhere from 50 hours or more. The story is engaging and well done. Replay is a must with a possibility of two paths to choose from, and an EX game to complete once the two paths are completed.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/03/08

Game Release: Persona 2: Eternal Punishment (US, 12/22/00)

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